It’s a new day for cannabis and you only need to look at what’s happening in Colombia to grasp what that means.
From a country once saddled with a bloody reputation for civil unrest, violence and ruthless drug lords like Pablo Escobar, Colombia today is on the right side of a growing global trend. The medicinal value of cannabis is leading many governments to make it legal, and Colombia is poised to reap the benefits.
Colombia has an ideal climate for growing, with a regulatory climate that’s also increasingly supportive. Having legalized medical cannabis for domestic use and export, the country stands to account for a fifth of what might be a $40 billion global market.
Executives like Canadian-Colombian Anthony Wile, whose PharmaCielo Ltd. has the largest production capacity in Colombia of any company to be issued licenses to grow marijuana crops, are determined to heal the nation’s lingering wounds even as they profit from fast-growing demand.
Headquartered in Canada, PharmaCielo has invested $40 million in medical marijuana that it’s growing on its 27 hectare plantation property close to the city of Medellin in northeast Colombia, where Escobar ran his drug empire in the 1980s.
PharmaCielo’s crops will be destined first for the Colombian marketplace, with a population of 48.8 million and more than 6 million potential patients who may find relief in medical cannabis from ailments such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, epilepsy and insomnia under the recent legalization of medicinal cannabis oil extracts. Colombia is also a key entry point to Latin America, which has a total population of 620 million and a potential cannabis patient pool of 68 million.
Toronto’s Anthony Wile and PharmaCielo are emblematic of the “new” Colombia. Wile has enthusiastically supported the mandates of the government’s regulations on the crop. In particular, the government mandate that at least 10 percent of the production from companies that receive cannabis cultivation licenses in Colombia must be allocated to the indigenous communities.
“It’s only right that those who were most damaged by Colombia’s violent past with drugs and political strife are beneficiaries of a better controlled marketplace,” Wile says.
More than that, though, PharmaCielo is helping to develop the area and advance local workers. The company is building greenhouses and educating people on modern agricultural techniques. “It’s important that we do our part in opening new opportunities for workers that go beyond cultivating coca or working for militant groups,” Wile says.
PharmaCielo is currently planning for commercial production of cannabis oil extracts in early 2019, for use in a variety of patient friendly oils, creams, inhalers and similar conveyances,
produced in laboratories and customized for patients. Prior to commercial production in Colombia, all licensees must demonstrate to the Colombian Agricultural Institute how its product will meet therapeutic requirements and that it has a sound plan to block its access by recreational users. Anthony Wile is confident about the PharmaCielo operating activity clearly demonstrating these requirements.
While Colombia may be following Canada on a regulatory front, it has advantages when it comes to cannabis production that are hard to deny: a key one being a more hospitable, less seasonal climate for growing.
PharmaCielo intends to finance its growth plans with a listing on the Toronto Venture Exchange, which Wile expects will help the company maintain its competitive position in this burgeoning industry.
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